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Conservation and the Archaeological Gaze: Field Manuals and Handbooks—Their Role in Transforming Preservation Knowledge in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

O'Grady, Caitlin R; (2022) Conservation and the Archaeological Gaze: Field Manuals and Handbooks—Their Role in Transforming Preservation Knowledge in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. In: Öz, B Nilgün and Luke, Christina, (eds.) Heritage, World Heritage, and the Future Perspectives on Scale, Conservation, and Dialogue. (pp. 189-216). Koc University Press: Istanbul, Turkey. (In press).

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Abstract

Preservation in the field has its origins in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries archaeological practice with the acknowledgement that degradation could seriously compromise excavated artifacts and the data they represented. Recognition that excavation was an inherently destructive process further highlighted the power of conservation to transform recovered artifacts into data and legitimized archaeological claims to authority about the past. Conservation field and laboratory methods developed in direct response to issues faced during excavation and processing of finds, as well as others encountered following export to Europe, the UK, and USA. Field manuals and handbooks play an important role in establishing and expanding archaeological authority through the dissemination of conservation techniques and methods. This paper investigates the social construction of archaeological expertise and its impact on discipline development, as well as the identity of associated actors engaged in preservation including scientists, as well as conservators. These manuals and handbooks act as boundary objects to maximize autonomy and control communication between a variety of participants with varying identities. Terminology used to describe preservation actions and the individuals carrying them out provides significant insight into how archaeologists perceived the process of conservation and distinguished themselves as experts. Investigation and critical assessment of these published and unpublished documents allows one to reconstruct the subtle, and not so subtle, power struggles between hard science, conservation, and archaeology in investigating the past. Finally, this process of negotiation along displinary lines resulted in a hierarchical system of expertise that continues to have ramifications for contemporary conservation practice.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Conservation and the Archaeological Gaze: Field Manuals and Handbooks—Their Role in Transforming Preservation Knowledge in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
ISBN: 6057685865
ISBN-13: 9786057685865
Publisher version: https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distribu...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10147656
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